Day 2: Lights, Camera and Action – Upstream in a bioreactor with cameras, sample analytics, in-bag sensors, parallel shake flask reactors and in-line mass spectrometry

Day two was when many of the participant’s experiments were going live; Video analysis detection, live process-data streaming from Sweden to the US, in-bag sensors to retrieve data from the bioreactor and in-parallel flask ShakeReactors replicating the bioprocess in small-scale. Everything went according to plan, until we had to reset and start it all over again.

Bioreactor with background lightning.

It was an early start for those that took part in the inoculation step. The scene was set and now the Testa Center staff took stage to start the show. Firstly, the 50-liter Xcellerex Disposable Reactor and atSpiro’s ShakeReactors were synchronized. Starting both devices at the same time, with the same growth media and culture should make it easier to compare data and thereby the characteristics of the reactors as well.

Sunrise from the lab

Technology setup

Freesense were also set for today’s agenda, having added their sensors in the bag the day before. The small sensors will retrieve crucial data during the bioreactor run from inside the single-use bag to provide key insights into culture and bioreactor health. Using such data Niels Jensen and Christian Bülow can help us to optimize our next batch, scale-up processes, or further bioreaction development work.

After having set up the stage and lights, next are the cameras. Before the bioreactor was started Oskar Flordal and Samuel Eliasson Godonou from Unibap had set up their camera to capture videos of the bioreactor. Accompanied by analysis software, they will be able to detect when abnormalities occur in order to train as well as utilize machine learning processes.

Oskar Flordal and Samuel Eliasson from Unibap mounting cameras.

Our participants from the US, Scitara, have also begun their set up procedure. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic they were unable to travel to Uppsala and having to participate remotely. Non the less with the flexibility which the Testa Center offers, we were able to set up a live feed of the lab for our remote participants and have regular video conference calls to ensure a smooth process which enabled us to integrate their data communication solution.

All good, until…

After some sampling and analysis on the spectrophotometer we all thought this will be a “challenge”-free day, until someone heard a dripping sound. A sound that any upstream specialist would recognize because they don’t want to hear it. The sound of a leaking bioreactor bag. Single-use bioreactor bags are designed to be robust, easy to use and efficient. Therefore, the occurrence for a bag to leak is very unlikely, and in this case also extremely unfortunate. Queue the action.

Bag leakage

Fortunately, the extremely experienced Testa Center team were very fast to respond and handled the situation promptly. The culture was pumped into a new sterile bag and any leakage was cleaned up in order to allow continuation of the experiments. Like clockwork the application specialists immediately had a “problem-solving” meeting on how to proceed and how to set up a new bioprocessing run which all was executed within less than two hours. With a combined effort and a pool of knowledge from all the experts we managed to prepare everything for a new inoculation for day three of the Testa Challenge week. A true show of skills and exceptional support the Testa Center has to offer.

New single-use bag during pressure test.

Learning in Testa Center

At the Testa Center you will learn a lot about your processes and experiments, but also about everything that you perhaps didn’t plan for. We strongly emphasize to do things together, to learn from one another, to build a network of people as well as competences and, importantly, how to reduce risks. We live by this mindset for any of our technology or bioprocess projects; do you feel the same? Then come and talk to us about your project.

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